Joe Schilling Plans to Show Melvin Manhoef No Mercy in Bellator Debut

By Mike Sloan Nov 6, 2014
Once upon a time, not too long ago, Joe Schilling was thought to be more style than substance -- a flash in the pan, and nothing more. There was a groundswell of hype surrounding the American in the muay Thai community going into 2012, and Lion Fight was promoting him as the face of their organization.

Then, Schilling lost consecutive bouts to Simon Marcus -- the first by stoppage, the second by decision -- bounced back with a win over Karapet Karapetyan in Thailand, and suffered a shocking loss to unheralded Eddie Walker via second-round knockout. As Schilling picked himself up off the canvas and tried to gather his senses, the world of muay Thai had essentially given up on “Stitch ‘Em Up” and cast him aside as a fluke.

“It’s been a big part of my career. That loss to Eddie Walker was devastating to me,” Schilling told in a recent interview. “That was an example of my being too overconfident and immature. It was terrible, but it made me humble again. After losing to him, it gave me perspective on things and it made me rethink my approach on not just my fighting but also my life.”

Schilling reinvented himself over the next two years and conquered the Glory 2013 middleweight championship tournament with a win over Artem Levin, arguably the world’s best at that weight. He triumphed over Wayne Barrett and arch nemesis Marcus en route to a heated but unsuccessful rematch with Levin at Glory 17 in June.

In many ways, Schilling was back where he belonged: amongst kickboxing’s middleweight elite.

“My whole life, I’ve always been the underdog where nobody ever expected me to really succeed,” he said. “Bouncing back from that loss and changing my attitude actually gave me so much more confidence, and after getting to the finals of Glory 17, I know now that I can beat anybody. But I have to stay grounded.”

When MMA promoter Bellator MMA went looking for someone to match up against electrifying veteran striker Melvin Manhoef, it wasn’t long before Schilling’s phone began ringing.

“When they offered me to fight Melvin, it took me about two seconds to accept it,” Schilling chuckled. “I’ve been a big fan of Melvin’s for years. Growing up around kickboxing, I was a huge fan of K-1 and even Pride. I watched all the Japanese fighting circuits, and Melvin has always been a big name there, so I’ve followed him for a long time.”

Though Schilling sports an unflattering 1-3 career record in MMA, he implores those who scoff at his return to caged combat to look past that. The fights took place more than six years ago, during a time when kickboxing was not paying the bills and Schilling needed to feed his family. According to Schilling, when he made his MMA debut for ShoXC in January 2008, it was the first time he had ever stepped into a cage and worn MMA gloves.

“That was when I literally had no experience and I thought I could just use my kickboxing to win. I was ignorant to think that, and I’m embarrassed by my record, but I’ve been training in MMA almost every day for a long time now. I’ve already been studying jiu-jitsu for three years.”

With that said, Schilling doesn’t expect the fight to hit the floor when he meets the Suriname native known for waging memorable striking wars. But, even with Manhoef’s impressive knockout ledger and wins over quality fighters, the Californian is confident that he will have the edge on the feet.

“I think I match up really well against him,” Schilling added. “I have a seven-inch reach advantage, I’m about eight years younger and I think I have a better chin. I also think I’m a better striker and all-around kickboxer than Melvin.

“I don’t want to say bad things about Melvin because I have nothing but respect for him,” Schilling continued, “but he’s lost six of his last seven kickboxing fights and they weren’t always against elite-level opponents. I don’t think he is the same Melvin that everybody knows and loves. And let’s face it: he’s not a D-1 wrestler or someone who is going to submit you. He’s going to go in and try to knock your head clean off, [but] he’s being matched up against a world-class Muay Thai fighter with four-ounce gloves.”

Schilling, who also owns the North American record for the quickest knockout in professional boxing in history -- a five-second blowout of Orlando Brizzio back in 2008 -- has a four-fight deal with Bellator exclusive to MMA. He stated that he is still allowed to fight for Glory depending on the matchups offered and the timing of the contests. Schilling contends that he wants to do both sports simultaneously but understands that might not always be possible.

In order to continue in the world of MMA, Schilling first has to get through “No Mercy” on Nov. 15.


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